This column is the second in a series of the most important legal issues most of us encounter.

Traffic Tickets. Getting a traffic ticket generally is not high on the legal-impact scale in your life, but the precipitating conduct often reaches far beyond the impact it has on your driver’s license or your motor-vehicle insurance points. So this category has received emphasis in this space over the years.

Assume a ticket likely will increase your motor-vehicle insurance rates and your driver’s license points. And yes, tickets in other states often do find their way back to your record in North Carolina. It is probably worth it to hire a lawyer if you get a ticket to avoid insurance and driver’s license points, and to avoid having to wait in court for several hours on your court date to get your case called.

Driving While Impaired. If you drive after drinking alcohol or taking an illegal substance, a punitive traffic ticket for your conduct is likely. Wrecks often occur because a poor split-second decision is made. Even a modest impairment can reduce your response time, so understand that your notion you are “OK” does not mean your reaction time is not impaired in a way you may not fully appreciate.

Passing a Stopped School Bus. Pay attention to the children. A highly punitive traffic ticket will follow if you do not, even though your actions are not intentionally reckless.

Wear Your Seat Belt. The chance that you survive a serious wreck is increased more than you can possibly know if you just wear your seat belt. You do yourself and your family a disservice if you do not wear your seatbelt and use mandatory safety seats for young children. A seat belt ticket is relatively minor as far as the law goes, but it should not disguise the harm that can come from not buckling up. So when your (grand) children bug you about buckling your seatbelt, listen to them.

Driving At High Rates of Speed. Most seasoned lawyers can tell you of clients who have lost their lives or had their families forever changed because another driver had no clear understanding of the harm that can occur if they lose control of what is, essentially, a high speed weapon. Be sure you and your driving-age children understand.

Failing to Stop Fully at a Stop Sign. Most motor-vehicle wrecks occur because of inattention, and this act is right at the top of the list. Drivers have their minds on other matters, even though there may be another (unexpected) vehicle in the dominant lane. Drivers may do a rolling stop innocently enough, because they rarely experience another vehicle coming from the dominant road at that time of day — until there is one.

This is another traffic ticket with fairly severe consequences on your driver’s license points/insurance points. And it may be the largest traffic violation an otherwise law-abiding driver commits that results in personal injury to themselves and others. Be mindful of the consequences of inattention and the risks it unwittingly creates.

Texting/Emailing While Driving. Like some high- profile driving while impaired deaths a number of years ago led to a necessary tightening up of penalties for DWI infractions, it may take, sadly, the death of a prominent person from this act of texting/emailing while driving to capture the public’s attention. Don’t be the driver or victim that captures this tragic public spotlight.

The next column will discuss additional key legal issues this column has addressed over the years that impact most families.

Remember: An informed choice is a smart choice.

This article was originally posted by the Winston-Salem Journal. To read the original article, click here.